One of the best parts about being pregnant with each of our sons was watching my husband’s enthusiasm grow as we prepared for each of their arrivals. My husband has very few, if any, good memories from his own childhood, so he reveled in the opportunity to plan and prepare things that would be meaningful and let our children know they were wanted and loved long before they were born.
His first gesture was to choose fabric for the special blanket my mother made for each of our boys. My husband took great care in selecting different palettes – blue for our oldest, purple for our youngest – so that, to this day, if we buy them the same item (cup, hat, toy car, whatever) we buy a blue one for our oldest and a purple one for our youngest. He also chose an animal for each of them and bought beautiful puppet-versions of those animals to keep in the crib while we dreamed about and anticipated our children.
He gave our youngest son a lion – a perfect match for this wild, headstrong child, whose preference is always to lead and whose voice cannot be ignored.
He gave our oldest son a wolf. The correlation between their personalities has not always been as clear as with our youngest, but I know my husband has always loved and wanted a wolf-like breed of dog (Husky, Malamute, etc.). I think choosing a wolf was his way of saying he would be the kind of father he always wished he’d had, with the personality traits he admired in dogs/wolves – nurturing, protective, fierce when needed, and loyal to their pack.
These stuffed animals guarded our boys in their cribs at night, sat with them as they heard their first stories (sometimes coming through the puppet mouth of their animal), and was their dad’s favorite means of interacting with them when they played. To date, these are the only toys that have survived all the transitions from birth ’til now.
Last week, a friend of a friend needed to find a new home for an 8-year-old, male Husky. It was the day before my husband’s birthday – a day he always wants to avoid or ignore, as it moves him one year farther from childhood. Long story short, we adopted this sweet dog (heretofore known as “the best birthday present ever!”), after a trial weekend (to ensure it was a good fit for everyone involved).
When we met Fitz (the majestic animal pictured, left), it was as if that first stuffed animal (pictured above) came to life. And now I can see the wolf in our oldest and our oldest in this wolf.
Like our oldest son, Fitz is extremely quiet (we still haven’t heard him bark), but you can see a whole host of emotions behind his eyes and, if he gets very excited or nervous, he will howl (like wolves do). Another similarity (to our son and most people on the autism spectrum) Fitz rarely engages anyone directly, but will engage in parallel play (brush up against you when he passes by; lay just near enough to hear you, but not close enough to be bothered; watch our other dog react to noises or strangers, but not feel compelled to react himself.)
All of our pets (this is our 5th since we got married) have been rescues and I started thinking about the similarities between our preference for upcycling and our desire to adopt rather than shop for a pet. Cultivating a desire to find the potential in things leads to an ability to see the potential in all things – people, relationships, situations, even pets.
Yes, I’ll say it, I believe we now have the dog my husband has always wanted because we have constructed our lives in such a way that we were here and open and ready when this dog needed us (not the other way around). And I believe my husband is the wonderful father that he is because he sought the qualities he wanted to emulate and surrounded himself, and his children, with them. These are the ways we are making something of it.